6 May 2014News

Hiscox turns to commercial lines in face of tough conditions

Hiscox looks to commercial lines growth as its reinsurance division comes under considerable market pressure.

According to its first quarter figures, Hiscox's gross written premiums grew by 2.3 percent to £501.6 million from £506.1 million in 2013, but there was a pulling back from reinsurance business.

The group’s long-term strategy of building local retail businesses to balance internationally traded business continues to present opportunities however, the company said.

Bronek Masojada, chief executive of Hiscox, comments: “The market is softening, but conditions in many of our insurance lines are good. Our retail businesses continue to benefit from long-term investment in the brand and our acquisition of DirectAsia represents another important milestone.”

The first quarter saw a diverse list of losses for Hiscox, including marine liability, upstream energy and movie production claims. The group also has a small exposure to the tragic Malaysian Airline flight 370 and Korean ferry loss.

Yet, Hiscox USA continues to grow apace with gross premium income up by 28.5 percent to $82.6 million (2013: $64.3 million). The London market also grew by 13.6 percent to £126.8 million, up from £111.6 million in 2013. This good growth was driven by property and small ticket binding authority business in North America, as well as extended warranty business.

In terms of the outlook, the company expect rates in many lines to remain under pressure, particularly in the absence of any catastrophes. However, it believes a diverse business mix gives it options and is hungry for new business opportunities.